Yosemite Falls and Half Dome

"Huff 'n Stuff" Yosemite 2005

For a second year, our good friends Mike and Diana Maloney reserved campsites in the Upper Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley (July 14-18). We didn't have as big a 'hood as last year. Instead, we had the Awful Family next door, which marred an otherwise excellent trip.

Once again we had daytime temperatures in the mid-90's and lows above 60, so it was t-shirt and shorts weather.

The Campsite

Vernal Falls (The Acclimation Hike)

On Friday, we hiked to the top of the Vernal Falls via the mist trail. Thanks to a very thick snowfall, the rivers were quite full this year which provided for spectacular falls and a very wet hike.

After a lunch at the top where Bill masqueraded as a ranger in his Acubra and khakis, we returned via the John Muir Trail to avoid the wet, slippery steps going down. Greg and Sonya's kids, Jasper, Bryce, and MacKinley, henceforth called "The Parks," did very well indeed.

El Capitan Hike

The hike to El Capitan goes straight up to the top of Yosemite Falls, bends behind Eagle Peak, and then continues upward to the top of El Capitan. It's a brutal, 11 hour hike, but I liked it better than the hike to Half Dome we did last year.

The main reason for this is that there are fewer people. We passed one group going up to the falls and were passed by a solo hiker. We saw a handful of folks at the top. From the top of the falls to El Capitan, we passed two groups, but did not see anyone at the top nor on the way down until we hit the falls again.

Another reason is that it had more of a backcountry feel for me which brought me back to my youth and my frequent backpacking trips with dad: the quiet trails through the forest, the stream crossings, the passages over granite marked only by cairns or what we used to call "ducks."

Here are some shots of the views hiking up to the top of the falls.

At the top of Yosemite Falls, we checked out the overlook. It gave me a pretty good case of vertigo looking at the path to it, but once on the overlook, the feeling passed. Does anyone else ever have the feeling of jumping over the railing and flying from a Very High Place? We then soldiered on to the top where we had lunch. The wildflowers were still very much in bloom. Here is a small survey of what we saw along the trail. Just for fun, I took two pictures of our parked Jeep. The second shot, taken at dusk, is what one usually expects to see. The first was taken when we first arrived at 0545. While we were gone, the rest of the gang rafted down the river, participated in Junior Ranger programs, or just relaxed.

Upon our return, the entire gang put on a huge pot-luck feast. Yum!

Sunday, and Beyond

A subset of us hit the Ahwahnee for brunch. Yum. Yum. Yum! Good idea, Bill.

Pam and the DesBrisays did more ranger programs, while everyone else but me went down the river in a raft again. I stayed back and transferred the data in my Palm to my new Treo.

Hawk and Martha then took off and the rest of us had leftovers. The rest of us packed up and left Monday morning.

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